Metallica’s debut album continues to generate ‘whiplash’ with fan base

Andrew Gadomski

Since this is my first article of the fall semester I thought I would start it off with a bang. While looking through my vast CD collection, I came across one that would do the trick, “Kill ’em All” by Metallica, which played a very large part in creating the band’s identity and establishing what the band would become over the next two decades.

Released in 1983, “Kill ’em All” was Metallica’s first release. It’s musical effort was greatly influenced by the California metal scene that called Los Angeles and San Francisco home. Despite having little to no airplay on radio stations across the country, Metallica was able to get it’s name out by word of mouth. People would get cassettes with Metallica songs on them at concerts and share them with their friends. In hindsight, it is interesting to view their negative attitude towards Napster when, in a way, they became popular using a very similar method.

The two most recognizable songs on the album are “Seek and Destroy” and “Four Horsemen.” In simple terms, these two songs are examples of pure heavy metal, rock ‘n’ roll and everything else that makes this style of music great: they are two of the best heavy metal songs ever. However, this CD isn’t just a two-hit wonder. Other songs that contribute to the mastery on this CD are “Whiplash,” speed metal in its finest form, and “Phantom Lord,” one of the more underrated songs that Metallica has released.

Other notable songs are “No Remorse” and “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth.” Metallica’s members put everything they had into their music and it can be seen in “Kill ’em All.” All the guitar riffs are hard, the drum beats at times sound angry, and the bass provide them with that edge that sets them apart from the rest in their field. They were the quintessential rockers – drinking, partying and not giving a damn about what people thought of them. Metallica was playing it’s lifestyle: hard, fast and at times, very risky.

The successes and tragedies that Metallica experienced after the release of “Kill ’em All” shaped the sound and content of the music found on the rest of the band’s CDs. Metallica’s progress has been halted at times by drug addiction, inter-band squabbling and just plain bad luck (original bassist Cliff Burton was killed in a bus accident while James Hetfield sustained serious injury after being caught in a pyrotechnics display at one of their shows). But when everything is all said and done, one thing remains: Metallica will be considered to be one of the greatest bands of all time, and none of this could have happened without “Kill ’em All.”